This is a picture of Canadians doing the "Vimy Glide" behind the creeping barrage 100 yards ahead crossing no mans land to the ridge.
It is 4 months now until the 90th anniversary and I am going to begin an ongoing series on resources that may help you know more before you go. Currently more than 6,000 children are booked to go and it is expected that more than 25,000 will be there on the day.
We still await the green light from the Cabinet on the details of how the days will be organized. As soon as they give it - I will post the information on how the celebration will be organized.
Many of you have responded to my first post on the anniversary by asking me for more information to help you find out more about your loved ones who served.
Here are some resources that I have found very helpful as I investigate my own grandfather's life in France.
The official Veterans Affairs Site - they are the project managers for this. Here you will find all the details about the days and the schedule and what you have to do to ensure that you are fully included.
My favourite overview of the CEF - Norm Christie's DVD Series - For King and Empire and his guide books. This outstanding series is based on a series of people's stories that anchors the narrative. Norm comes in and out in the present and fades back into history. The production values are first rate and the music setting is outstanding. The producers find the way to connect the personal and the human to giant forces. I was so proud to be a Canadian as I saw what we had achieved.
The official history of the CEF by Col Nicholson is available online in PDF form here
The National Archives will have the war record of any soldier. My grandfather's record is an endless source of pride and information for me as will be your loved one's record. I strongly recommend that you get the record that you want.
If your loved one was with the 1st Division in Valcartier this book has all the names of all the men in each unit that sailed. My grandfather was in the 5th battery in the 2nd Artillery Brigade. I hope to see the names of all those that he served with and then to follow them all throughout the war. When my uncle asked him what he remembered the most - Alec said that it was the men - he really loved them and they him.
He got his first DSO when "One of the ammunition wagons of his battery was hit by a shell and the ammunition set on fire. He at once ordered his men to a distance while he himself went and opened the door and removed the charges. But for his gallant action a serious disaster might have occurred (His citation in the LG)". Alec was awarded a bar to his DSO and was the most decorated (for bravery) artillery officer of the conflict.
If you want to find the basic information of a loved one who died in WWI please go here and you will find out where he is either buried or commemorated if he was not found. You will also find a short history that will include when he was killed and where he came from. Here is an example of a person that I have had a great deal of affection for - Ned Slattery
Here is an excellent guide to all the cemeteries with pictures and maps. Here is a picture of where Ned lies with his friends of 3rd battalion.
Here is a picture of the cemetery provided by a relation before it was made pretty.
Here is what Ned Slattery - one of the most decorated soldiers in the CEF - who rose from the ranks - looks like (Thanks to Patricia Ryan for both pictures).
So you too can find out so much about almost any man who served just as the Slattery and the Paterson family have discovered.
Every unit had a daily war diary. These recorded, often in long hand, the daily events of the units. They are now online. Here you can see the daily life of your loved one's unit. If he was an officer he will be mentioned by name if something happens to him. It amazed me to see my Grandfather's own hand writing. Also his luck. He was sent to another unit one day before his battery was overwhelmed and his replacement killed. Here is the news of his transfer just a few days after this near miss.
Click and you will get a larger view that I hope you can read. He was by 1917 one of the few original officers left alive.
These entries are riveting - as I read them over Xmas - I had a vivid sense of what life was like. For instance I read all the entries for 6 weeks before Vimy for his Brigade. Here is the entry that ended Alec's war in September 1918.
During the night of the 6/7th, 23rd battery (He had moved to the 2nd division to command its howitzer battery in 1917.) was heavily shelled with Yellow gas mixed with HE. Battery got through the shelling without any serious effects but when workingaround the position next morning almost entire personnel at guns were gassed. The following going out - Major A T Paterson ......
If your loved one received a decoration, it would have been posted in the London Gazette. Here is the link to their records. Some say no more than the award but others have the citation as well. If you have the war record, the discharge document will list the awards and add the LG date and number so that you can go back and find out more.
Here are some wider sets of links - WWI Links. Here is a link to an outstanding discussion group called The Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. Here is another to the Canadian Great War project. Here is the link to a wide selection of links called Canada and World War I - the First Contingent.
Of course there is masses more information. Please post what you woud like to add in the comments
See you in France. More later